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Estate Planning

Top 10 Duties of an Executor of an Estate

The executor of an estate handles the financial responsibilities of the estate. They carry out the wishes of the deceased whether there's a will involved or not. After the owner of the estate passes away, the executor takes over to finalize payment on the deceased's outstanding debt before dividing the remaining amount of money and property to the beneficiaries. Specifically, it is divided into many tiny, yet important, tasks. Here are the top 10.

  1. Lord of the Will - The executor knows the contents of the will inside and out including who inherits what. The representative will locate it and file it in probate court whether probate is necessary or not.
  2. Spread the Word - Make sure important financial institutions know that this person is deceased. Examples are banks, social security administration, credit card companies, loan providers and mortgage lenders.
  3. Outstanding Debt Bank Account - Set a bank account up to pay remaining bills. Utility bills, cable bills, car payments, hospital bills, mortgages, credit card bills, subscriptions, memberships and additional loans are settled with this temporary account.
  4. Taxes - The same bank account handles state, federal, property, county and city tax. The executor must file a final income tax in the deceased's name and add the refund to the estate or pay off final government taxes.
  5. Estate Inventory - Submit asset inventory to probate court. This may or may not be required in your state.
  6. Probate Procedure - There is the expedited process and the normal, slow-paced process. Depending on personal property and the amount, the executor must figure out which one works better for the estate.
  7. Maintenance - Houses, cars, jewelry and other valuable pieces of estate must remain in mint condition until allocated or sold. Curb appeal, washing the car, cleaning jewelry, fixing damages and protecting property are examples of what an executor has to do.
  8. Distributing Inventory - Split assets based on the will. If there's no will, then divide based on state law.
  9. Remaining Inventory - Any assets not divided in the will and not needed to pay outstanding debt is disposed. Examples may be (but not limited to) furniture, clothes, food, bath items, kitchen items and knick-knacks. However, the executor can sell those items and add the amount to the estate. Contact us for more information about that.
  10. Appear in Court - If necessary, the executor will appear in court to defend the estate for any reason.

The top 10 duties of an executor of an estate are the most important tasks. Without fulfilling those duties, the other errands will not finish. We urge you to have an executor of your estate. Come in for a free consultation and our Torrance estate planning attorney will tell you more about choosing the right person for this vital responsibility.